According to recent statistics compiled by the National Youth Violence Prevention Center (an organization sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and various other federal agencies), it is extremely likely that your teen or a teen known to you or your own teen will experience dating violence.
Dating violence covers the gamut of physical, sexual and/or emotional/psychological abuse and occurs in the context of casual or long-term relationships. Certainly rates of frequency and severity vary depending on what questions are posed in a particular survey, but conservative survey results consistently indicate that 20 to 30 percent of teens will be victims of teen dating abuse.
While both teenage boys and teenage girls report being victims of physical violence, teenage girls are much more likely to report feelings of terror and suffer serious injury.
In contrast, male victims seldom fear violence, often report that the attacks did not hurt and found the attacks amusing. There are also gender differences in the reasons given by teens for using physical force. While both report aggression initiation as a result of feelings of anger, girls more often attack in self-defense while boys use force to control actions of their dates or girlfriends. Early warning signs of a dating situation at high risk for becoming abusive include the following.
Pressure, soon after dating begins, to make the relationship serious or to have sex.
Incidents of jealousy or possessiveness, with dramatic displays of emotion attributed to signs of caring or love.
Demands to focus on the relationship versus family and friends.
Efforts to dominate decision-making.
Verbal or emotional abuse that includes yelling or swearing as a means of intimidation or efforts to manipulate through threats or the spreading of false of degrading rumors or shaming, blaming or name-calling to invoke feelings of guilt.
A previous history of problems with drugs and/or alcohol or relationship abuse.
Children and teens need frequent and consistent reminders that they are powerful human beings who teach people how to treat them. They cannot earn respect from others if they do not treasure, respect and honor themselves.
Peggy Nolen is a licensed professional counselor in Covington. She specializes in recovery from traumatic experience, anxiety, depression and problems with drugs and alcohol. She can be reached at (770) 314-5924.